Chat bubbles and consistent buttons headline an update to Skype's desktop versions, which sees the Windows and Mac variants of the messaging software fitted with features that became popular on the mobile builds of the app.

The pair of updates hits Mac first, while Windows only receives a preview, for now. The chat bubbles help to make messaging more sleek and attractive on the desktop versions of Skype, while the program's buttons have been updated to be consistent across chats, video calls and audio sessions.

"For the last year we've dedicated a lot of time to refresh the chat experience in Skype. We've brought more improvements to the desktop," says Tom Huang, Skype product manager. "Photos in your new Skype for Windows and Mac apps show up as you'd expect, beautifully displayed for your instant viewing. On Windows, there's more spacing between contacts and chats, as well as message previews for unread chats, making it even easier to follow conversations."

The updates add multitasking to the desktop versions of Skype. Users can exchange IMs and files in a sidebar, while participating in a video or audio call. And on the Mac version, it only takes a single click to launch into Skype's side-by-side view.

File sharing has also received some attention. The updates help shared content stand out better by introducing new icons to denote the various file types tossed around the program.

Rounding out the changes to the desktop versions of Skype, group video calling was said to have been improved. Huang didn't specify what performance boosts were delivered to group calling, but he said there are more updates inbound.

"The journey of delivering the best communication experience doesn't end here," says Huang. "We're still working relentlessly on several exciting improvements and new features. Stay tuned for more great stuff."

While the voice-over-Internet Protocol software provider continues to expand its software's messaging capabilities, Google keeps driving deeper into the field of communications.

Just a day before Skype announced the new features for its desktop software, Google expanded Google Voice to support multimedia messaging across more than 100 wireless carriers.

Back in September, Google merged the voice and video apps of its Hangouts software. The search engine company also announced that VoIP services would be free in North America and would cost only pennies on the dollar for international calls.

"Whether it's your sister in Paris, your best friend in Boston or Jenny at 867-5309, Hangouts lets you call the people you care about at little or no cost," says Amit Fulay, product manager of Google Hangouts. 

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